Voters will endorse this ‘performing government’ - Minister
The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa
is a performing government. It embarked on a massive development drive
in all three provinces where elections are held, especially in the
Eastern Province, after eradicating terrorism. Therefore, there is no
need for voters to change the provincial administration. The voters are
sensible and they know that they cannot get anything done by changing
the administration at this stage, said Irrigation and Water Resources
Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva during an interview with the
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Can the UPFA win all three Provincial Councils (PCs) at the
A: The government is confident in recording a major victory in
all three PCs. This is because the government embarked upon a massive
development drive in all three provinces, especially in the Eastern
Province after eradicating terrorism and completing the humanitarian
operation. Therefore, we are confident about the voters' satisfaction
and there is no need for the voters of these three provinces to change
the provincial administration because the provincial administrations are
fully supported by the government. The voters are sensible and they know
that they cannot get anything done by changing the administration at
The main Opposition, the United National Party (UNP) and other
parties are divided and have weakened. People cannot expect anything
from such a weak Opposition.
Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister
Nimal Siripala de Silva
Q: The PCs accuse the government of not granting adequate
funds and the public accuses the PCs of not carrying out development
work. Please comment.
A: Every year the PCs are given a certain amount of funds by
the Finance Commission. For example, the government provides the bulk of
the finances required for projects,such as, provincial hospitals,
schools and many other development and welfare work. Some PCs have their
own earnings from taxes etc and the PCs carry out a lot of work using
the funds earned by them as well as through funds allocated for them by
the central government. Sometimes, the PCs say the funds are not
sufficient, but, the central government has undertaken a lot of
development work such as carpeting provincial roads.
The Economic Development Ministry has fully undertaken this task and
allocated several millions of rupees for each province. Thus,
development work is carried out in the provinces. In most of the
provinces, 70 to 80 per cent of bus routes are carpeted. Apart from
that, massive water projects and other development projects are carried
out by the central government. This too will have an impact on this
election because the people recognize the government of President
Mahinda Rajapaksa as a performing government. Issues related to the
development of rural and urban masses is fully addressed and there has
never been an era when such vast development was carried out.
Q: How do you see the behaviour of the Opposition at this
A: When the UNP and the JVP cannot be united, how can they
think of forming a common Opposition? There are more divisions within
the Opposition parties which create a negative impression on the voters.
Therefore, it is not the government that weakens the Opposition but the
The SLFP was also in the Opposition. We also had some divisions
within the party. But we all got together and formed a strong coalition
and defeated a government which had five sixth majority. We too welcome
a strong Opposition because we are a democratic government and we need a
strong Opposition for good democratic practice. But it is unfortunate
that the Opposition has not taken this issue seriously. More MPs in the
Opposition want to join the government.
Q: The Opposition makes certain allegations against the
government regarding law and order. Comment.
A: I explained in Parliament that there is no such crime wave
in the country. According to statistics of the last 10 years, there was
no such crime wave although there were some incidents which occurred
recently which were sensitive in nature that the media highlighted. But
we should not forget that the Police apprehended the accused.
Q: Some media reports accuse you of not granting relief to
farmers affected by the drought. Comment.
A: We explained on several occasions that nobody can hold the
government responsible for the drought which was created due to climatic
change. Only the Mahaweli system - H, Girithale and some parts of
Polonnaruwa and Kurunegala were badly affected by the drought. If there
was sufficient rain in the Polgolla and Kothmale catchments, we would
not have experienced such a situation. We informed officials to advise
farmers not to cultivate the usual area of land as water in the tanks
were at a lower level than usual.
Despite our instructions, some farmers, thinking that rains would
come, cultivated the usual area of land and faced difficulties. Water is
not a commodity which a government can purchase and distribute through
canals to paddy fields. But the government took several steps to offer
relief measures, especially giving farmer organisations enormous amount
of money to repair canals etc.
The government has promised that seed paddy and other assistance for
cultivation would be offered to farmers during the next season.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced this repeatedly especially
during the last progress review meeting held in Kurunegala. The total
cultivation area affected by the drought is about 10 percent of the
total cultivated lands in the area. We have managed to provide water to
90 percent of farm lands in this country,although certain sections of
the media and the Opposition is trying to highlight that all farmers are
affected by the drought. Through a good water management system, we were
able to save some of the paddy lands even in Girithale and Polonnaruwa.
During last month, we commenced a massive rehabilitation programme
covering canals and irrigation systems and we will continue the project
until the rains come and tanks get filled up. Sensible farmers in this
country are aware of the measures taken by the government to ensure that
relief is provided to affected farmers.
Q: The next UNHRC sessions are scheduled for September. What
will be Sri Lanka's response?
A: The government is ready to meet any challenges and the
implementation of the LLRC recommendations has already commenced. The
compilation of a good report and an action plan is undertaken. I am sure
we will have no problem in defending ourselves at any international
Q: How do you see the role of the media in development?
A: There had been a recent trend to defame the government, the
leader etc. It is an unfortunate situation. The media must be
responsible. One reason for this situation is lack of checks and
balance. I am not talking about the entire media, because some media
institutions, websites etc act responsibly.
The Criminal Defamation Law was repealed by the UPFA government. It
was done in the hope that the media would act responsibly. But it is
regrettable to see the manner in which some media institutions are
behaving. We cannot teach the media about media ethics. Media
institutions should do it themselves.